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On The Book of 3 John
INTRODUCTION TO 3 JOHN
I will do the Third John
Commentary similar to my other Commentaries . . . in that
I will bring the verse or verses in the KJV, followed by what
it is saying to me. What I write will be a personal comment,
it is NOT Scripture.
This letter was written by the Apostle John, who calls himself an "elder," as in the preceding letter, and is inscribed to a friend of his, whom he mentions by name, and expresses a very deep affection for, on account of his steady adherence to the Truths of the Gospel (1:1), he wishes him bodily health and prosperity of his soul (1:2); congratulates him upon the testimony the brethren that came from him gave him of the Truth being in him, and of his walking in it (1:3), commends him for his hospitality and charity, of which testimonies were given before the church; and encourages him to go on doing the same acts of beneficence, since it was to such persons that went forth for the sake of Christ, and preaching in His Name, and received nothing from the Gentiles (unbelievers) for so doing. Because of this, the preachers and missionaries should be received and entertained by those of ability, that they might be fellow helpers to the Truth with them (1:5).
John complains that Diotrephes was a proud, haughty and overbearing man in the church, where Gaius was a member, and would not receive the letters the apostle John sent, nor the brethren that came with them (1:9).
John warns Gaius not to follow such a bad example, only that which is good in any person; since he that does good appears to be of God, and he that does evil has never known God (1:11). John particularly recommends Demetrius, who had a good report of all men, and of the Truth as well, and had a testimony from the apostle, and those that were with him, which was known to be a true one (1:12).
But though he had many things to say, John decides to write no more for now, hoping he should shortly see him, and personally talk together; and closes the epistle with his own good wish, and with mutual salutations of friends (1:13).
3 John . . . Chapter 1
Gaius -- A Delightful Brother (1:1-8)
3 John 1:1 The elder unto the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. (KJV)
"The elder" . . . is the writer of the epistle, the Apostle John, who so calls himself because of his age and office, as in the preceding letter. He could have said, "I am an apostle," but he does not do that. Gaius is a friend, and you do not write that way to your friend, and besides, Gaius would have known John was an apostle.
"Unto the well-beloved Gaius" . . . I love that. John's letter is addressed to a believer in the early church by the name of Gaius. Gaius was a beloved brother in the church. Four times John calls him "beloved" (vv. 1,2,5,11). John knows and loves him in the Lord, and he now writes a letter to this brother who apparently is in some local church.
"Whom I love in the truth" . . . immediately we are told that Gaius is sound in doctrine. He accepted the deity of Christ. Gaius is a man who stood for the Truth, and he not only stood for the Truth but he also worked for the Truth. Here is a man who walked and worked in love. He life revealed his love. You have to think right if you are going to act right . . . that is true in any part of life today.
3 John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. (KJV)
"Beloved" . . . John must have thought a great deal of Gaius and was very close to him since, again, he calls him "beloved."
"I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health" . . . John makes it clear that he wants Gaius to prosper not only financially (it seems he may have been a man of means), but John also says, "I want you to prosper in your health." Evidently, Gaius was not a well man.
"Even as thy soul prospereth" . . . and John wanted him to prosper also in his soul, to grow spiritually. So often, people do NOT grow spiritually. They stay "little children" or babes in Christ. (1 John 2:1,12-13,18,28; 3:7; 5:21).
There are many Christians today who are sick spiritually. They have good health physically, but they have bad health spiritually. It is certainly good for a child of God to have both. Good health physically is wonderful to have . . . many of us do not appreciate good health until we lose it.
The soul is sick when it is diseased with sin. It may be said to be in good health, when all its iniquities are forgiven (Acts 5:30-31; 13:38; 26:18; Rom.4:7; Eph.1:7; Col.1:14; Heb. 8:12; 10:17; 1 John 1:9).
It may be said to prosper, when we have a spiritual appetite for the Gospel, and a hunger for God (Mat.5:6). We must DESIRE the sincere milk of the Word (1 Pet.2:2-3). We must feed upon it and be nourished by it, for that is the only way that we can grow spiritually and prosper spiritually.
As we grow, we exercise faith, hope and love; when spiritual knowledge is increased, we grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ Jesus (2 Cor.4:6; Eph.1:17; Phil.3:8; 2 Pet.1:8; 2:20; 3:18). When the inward man is renewed day by day with fresh strength from the Vine (John 15:1-5); we enjoy a close communion with God, because we walk in the Light of His Countenance (Ps.89:15; John 8:12; 1 John 1:7), and the joys of his salvation (Rom.5:1,11-12; 14:17; 15:13; 15:32; 1 Pet.1:8; 1 John 1:4); we strive to be fruitful in every good work (2 Cor.9:8; Col.1:10).
It is very important to have good health spiritually. What physical health is to the body, holiness is to the spiritual life of the believer. To be healthy spiritually is holiness, purity, living a righteous life; it is to be growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ.
There were traveling around in that day many men who were teaching the Word of God and doing missionary work. Gaius would open his home to them and entertain them. He was not only a big-hearted man, and walked in love, but he also walked in truth, and he checked out these teachers. Far too few today check out preachers and teachers to see IF they are speaking Truth! With all the damnable heresies flooding today's churches, it is foolish to think they all are speaking Truth . . . for they are NOT! . . . BEWARE!!! . . . http://www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_1_false_teachers.1.htm . . . http://www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_cults.1.htm . . . http://www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_word_faith_movement.1.htm
3 John 1:3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. (KJV)
Many of these traveling evangelists and missionaries reported to John just how gracious Gaius was, and told of his walk in the Truth. They said that he was a wonderful man. In that day they did not put the traveling preacher in hotel or motel, because there weren't any. The custom of that day was to put these men in homes.
This is the testimony that other brethren gave concerning Gaius. This was their judgment of him. "The truth" is actually the doctrine and the teaching of the apostles. "Walkest in truth" . . . this refers not only to doctrine but also his conduct. The mark of the believer is to walk in Truth. Truth is that which is dominant. The mark of the Christian is whether or not he is walking in the Truth and walking in the Light. It isn't just how you walk but also where you walk that is important. Walking in the Truth also means walking in the right conduct or walking in love of the brethren. Are you walking in the Truth?
Those who had a teaching ministry in the early church would come to Gaius' town and to his church, and they would find that his home was wide open to TRUE brethren. Gaius must have had a great spiritual discernment. He could tell who were the genuine believers and who were not. My friend, you must do this to make sure about a man's relationship to the Person of Jesus Christ.
You must think rightly of Jesus in order to be right in everything else. Gaius tested the preachers out to see if believed in the deity of Christ, to see if they believed in the virgin birth and whether they believed that Christ died a redemptive death upon the Cross and was raised bodily from the grave. When Gaius found out that they believed these things, he opened his home to and heart to them. What a marvelous testimony Gaius had!
3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (KJV)
John had been the pastor of the church in Ephesus and had led many to the Lord. It is a great joy to him, now that he is an old man, to hear that his converts, scattered out over the area of Asia, are still walking in Truth. Here again "walking in truth" means walking in right doctrine and in love for the brethren . . . his children manifested these things. John rejoiced in these young preachers.
3 John 1:5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; (KJV)
Gaius was evidently one of the children of John, one of John's converts. His conduct conforms to his doctrine, and it is marvelous when that takes place.
From verse 5 to 8, John commends Gaius for having received and entertained the TRUE teachers of the Word.
Let's see the difference: In 2 John the apostle warns against receiving false teachers, but in 3 John he encourages the believers to receive the TRUE brethren.
3 John 1:6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: (KJV)
In the second letter, John says that if you bid God speed (2 John 10-11) to false teachers, you are a partaker with them, you are guilty of their deeds. But here he says that if you help those who are giving out the Word of God and who are walking in love, you do well. This is actually something we should be doing.
3 John 1:7 Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. (KJV)
John writes to Gaius, knowing that these men went out at great sacrifice. They did not receive a salary; they did not receive any payment. They simply went out trusting the Lord, and homes were opened to them. In some places they were given support; in other places they were not.
"Taking nothing of the Gentiles" . . . These ministers preached Christ, not for personal gain or advantage. They were not greedy, not interested in income. The traveling missionaries neither asked for nor accepted anything from nonbelievers because they did not want anyone questioning their motives for preaching. God's TRUE preachers do NOT preach to make money but to show their love for God. . . . THAT is NOT how it is with many false preachers today! . . . http://www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_cults_rich_preachers.1.htm
3 John 1:8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. (KJV)
In other words, you would be a partner with these men if you opened your home to them, if you supported them and helped them on their way. Again, the difference: in his second letter, John warns "the elect lady" not to receive apostates into her home because if she does, she is a partner with them in their evil deeds.
When you help someone who is spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you are a partner in their ministry, which is good. This is the opposite of the principle in 2 John 10-11, where you are NOT to help someone who is spreading "another gospel" (2 Cor.11:4) because you would be a "partaker of his evil deeds."
When Gaius helped the TRUE preachers, he became a partner with them in getting out the Word of God.
Diotrephes . . . A Dictator (1:9-11)
Gaius was a wonderful guy, a choice saint in the early church. It would have been good if all of the men in the early church were like that, but, like today, they were not. So, now we come to another man, Diotrephes, quite different than Gaius.
3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. (KJV)
John wrote a pentateuch in the New Testament, just as Moses wrote the Pentateuch of the Old Testament. John wrote a Gospel, the Revelation, and three letters. That makes five books . . . he wrote a pentateuch. If it is true that John wrote his letters after the Book of the Revelation, this letter is the icing on the cake. It was written close to the end of the first century. Many wonderful believers had been brought into the Truth and into the church. Were they all models of virtue? Were they all outstanding men of God? Were they worthy followers of Christ? I am certain that many were great Christians.
There were some like Gaius, TRUE men of God, men of courage, who stood boldly for God and His Word. BUT . . . there were also men like Diotrephes. He is quite different from Gaius. Diotrephes loved preeminence and dominance.
Gaius is the delightful and pleasant brother, but Diotrephes is a dictator. It is said that he even opposed the apostle John. John had written to this church to receive certain men, among whom was an outstanding preacher of the Gospel, one of those unknown saints of God, whose name was Demetrius, but this man Diotrephes would not receive him. As I have mentioned previously, the early Christians practiced hospitality. Peter mentions it in 1 Pet.4:9, "Use hospitality one to another without grudging." Paul also talks about it in 1Tim.5:9-10; Rom.12:13; and Titus 1:8.
I do not know whether Diotrephes was a preacher or a layman in his church, but he would not open his home to any of these men whom John had recommended. The reason is that he loved to have the preeminence. He was going to have his own way, and it did not make any difference what the end result might be. Diotrephes is a proud man who puts on airs. He is a pompous, conceited know-it-all. He wants all the glory. He struts around like a peacock.
John will bring five charges against him: #1. He must occupy the leading place in the church; #2. he actually refused to receive John; #3. he made malicious statements against the apostles; #4. he refused to entertain the missionaries, and #5. he excommunicated those who did entertain the missionaries.
Diotrephes wanted to be the #1 exalted ruler of the church. Know any like that? I think we all do! Woe unto anyone who attempts to oppose him. If he was a layman, his pastor had constant trouble with him. He tried his best to keep his pastor under his thumb in order that HE could preside. He wanted to be the one to be heard. Diotrephes was self-opinionated, and self-exalting instead humble. He probably was one of those who claimed to be a self-made man instead of allowing the Holy Spirit make him over. He was self-sufficient, and most likely guilty of self-admiration too. He was self-willed, self-satisfied and self-confident. He felt that he could do all the teaching and preaching and that he did not need these other men to come and minister. . . . We knew a pastor like this years ago. He did every job in the church: preached, taught Sunday School, etc. There were many there that should have been allowed to serve the Lord, but he did it all. He wanted all the glory.
In many churches today, there are always men like Diotrephes, men who want to run the church. I personally have watched such people wreck churches, both pastors and laymen! My husband and I personally have known 4 preachers who literally tore up their churches, and one local layman with a character just like Diotrephes. They just want to be boss! They enjoy being up before a group of people. They love to talk.
There are many who should keep quiet in the church. Remember that Paul said, "Study to be quiet" (1 Thes. 4:11). My friend, we ought not to talk in church unless we have something to say, unless we have something from God to say. We have two ears and one mouth (tongue Jam.3:5-6,8; 1 Pet.3:10). What does that say to you? Listen twice as much as you speak! James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. (KJV) . . . God's people should work hard to do everything in the church service to bring glory to the Name of Christ . . . NOT to self!
John now says that he is going to deal with this problem.
3 John 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. (KJV)
"Wherefore, if I come" . . . at the end of the letter, we see that John intends to come . . . but we never know what a day will bring forth (Heb.6:3; Jam.4:13-16). We never know what tomorrow may bring. We may not even be here. And too, if something is not God's will, you do NOT want it. What John says is, "If things go as planned, I might be able to make the trip." John did intend to come. There is no doubt in his mind about that.
"I will remember his deeds which he doeth" . . . John will really chastise Diotrephes for his deeds against Christianity when he gets there.
In Christianity, the important word is Truth, and Truth reveals itself in love . . . just that simple! Diotrephes, loving preeminence, is a characteristic of the flesh. The fruit of the Spirit is meekness, but proud and arrogant Diotrephes was a dictator. Meekness does not mean weakness or cowardice. I ran across a definition of meekness once. Good one! Meekness = power under control. Jesus was MEEK (Isa.53:7; Mat.11:29; 21:5; 27:31; Acts 8:32; 2 Cor.10:1; Jam.5:6; 1 Pet.2:23 ). Doesn't that description fit Jesus?
"Prating against us with malicious words" . . . Diotrephes was trying desperately to completely destroy the effectiveness of the apostles and especially of John. John says that when he gets there, he will deal with him. He would speak out against him and let it be known that he is using malicious words.
"And not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church" . . . Diotrephes was excommunicating anyone who would entertain these men John had recommended. This guy was a child of the devil (1 John 3:10).
Many call John an apostle of love (which he was), but the Lord Jesus called him a son of thunder (Mk.3:17). I think they had a real thunderstorm when John arrived at this church because he said he was going to deal with Diotrephes. It is too bad other churches won't deal with their Diotrephes, because he will wreck a church if he is permitted to go on. Diotrephes exhibits that which is NOT the mark of a believer. He did NOT have the Truth.
3 John 1:11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. (KJV)
John encourages beloved Gaius to continue doing that which is good. Again, he emphasizes that the one who practices righteousness is a child of God but the one who does not practice righteousness is NOT born of God. 1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (KJV) . . . 1 John 4:19-21 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (KJV)
Demetrius . . . A Dependable Brother (1:12-14)
We come now to the third man, Demetrius. He is a really nice guy. You just have to love him. Gaius is a delightful brother, Diotrephes is a dictator, and Demetrius is a dependable brother.
3 John 1:12 Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true. (KJV)
"Demetrius hath good report of all men and of the truth itself" . . . this is a man sound in the faith. "Yea, and we also bear record" . . . in the mouth of two witnesses, a thing is established. Demetrius has a good report of all men; for the Truth bears witness to him, and John does too. "And ye know that our record is true." This church knows that John bears a true witness.
Demetrius is most likely one of these wonderful saints of God whom Diotrephes had shut out of the church. We have only one verse about Demetrius . . . this is all we know about him. He is never mentioned again in Scripture. BUT, this one verse of Scripture gives us an insight into the Christian character of this gracious saint of God. His name means "belonging to Demeter," that is the goddess of agriculture. He must have been a convert from paganism, and was brought up in a pagan home and worshiped the gods of the Greeks and Romans. BUT . . . God works in very mysterious ways. This pagan man, converted, now teaches the Word of God. He beautified the doctrine of Christ. Others testified to his character, and he was true to the doctrine of Scripture.
Demetrius is evidently among the group of men whom John mentions that Diotrephes was not receiving. He is one of those itinerant preachers who went about in the first century . . . poor, humble and unknown. He is a member of that great army which carried the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the Roman Empire so that it could be said that the whole world had heard the Gospel (Mat.28:19-20; Acts 1:8). The whole Roman world of that day, the whole civilized world, was entirely evangelized. Then apostasy began to set in, when men like Diotrephes came in. . . . http://www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_an_apostate_world.1.htm
Demetrius is one of those bright, shining lights of the New Testament, a humble saint of God. Sad to say, but today, men like him are getting fewer and fewer (Mat.7:13-14). There are some humble saints of God left, but the old devil is working hard to eliminate them.
Demetrius had a good reputation in the past and he still has a good reputation. Demetrius is the dependable brother, a faithful man of God. Demetrius was tested by the Truth. He measures up to the definition of a TRUE believer. John knows him and agrees. There are witnesses to the fact that Demetrius loves the doctrine of Christ, and lives by it.
The real test of the Christian life is NOT in the arena backed by thunderous applause. There is nothing spectacular or sensational about them . . . TRUE Christians simply live to serve God and His people!
3 John 1:13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: (KJV)
Though John wrote the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation, two of the longest books of the New Testament, and his three letters. Personally, I love John's writings. And although his letters are short, they are extremely effective in my estimation. He says SO much in SO few words!
This letter closes, as the second one does, with a statement that he had many things to say, but that he preferred waiting till he should see him rather than put them on paper. John simply says he would much rather tell it to you than write it to you. But I will not with ink and pen, etc. (2 John 1:12).
3 John 1:14 But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name. (KJV)
John will speak face to face with Diotrephes, and I am sure he really got a tongue lashing! And John will speak to Gaius and Demetrius, those wonderful men of God. He says, "We shall speak face to face."
Someday, we too, will be able to speak face to face with John. We can talk to him about all his books that he wrote. I don't know about you, but I have many questions I want answers to. The more I study the Holy Word of God, the more I realize just how little I know!
"Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name." What a nice way to end this letter!